Smart Skin Patch Developed To Release Blood Thinners As Needed, Prevent Dangerous Blood Clots


A team of researchers invented a smart patch to treat a condition called thrombosis that causes serious health issues like stroke and heart attack in millions of people worldwide.

Thrombosis is a blood clot that disturbs the blood flow in the body leading to various complications like stroke, heart attack and pulmonary embolism. Thrombosis is generally treated with the help of blood thinners like Heparin, which demands constant monitoring of blood condition through blood tests for assessing the right dosage.

Smart Skin Patch Developed To Treat Thrombosis

Researchers from University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University developed a skin patch that is capable of detecting thrombosis and release required amounts of Heparin to treat the clot.

Zhen Gu, co-corresponding author of the study, noted that the patch is designed to monitor the blood flow of the patients and release Heparin as and when required in a "self-regulating" way.

HA-Heparin Smart Patch

The smart patch consists of polymers that consist of hyaluronic acid (HA) and Heparin in the form of microneedles. The polymer is designed to be sensitive to thrombin, an enzyme that is responsible for initiating blood clotting process. When thrombin present in the blood comes into contact with the polymer, the enzyme binds with the amino acids releasing the Heparin attached to HA.

Yuqi Zhang, the co-lead author of the study, noted that when there is plenty of thrombin present in the blood, high amounts of Heparin is required to prevent clotting. Given that, the smart patch is designed to release Heparin according to the amount of thrombin present in the blood.

HA-Heparin Smart Skin Patch Mice Experiment

For the purpose of the study, the smart patch was tested on a mouse model. The researchers injected Heparin to one group of mice and gave HA-Heparin smart patch to another while another group was left as such. Ten minutes after the procedure, mice from all the three groups were given thrombin injection.

It was observed that only the mice that had no Heparin or smart patch died after 15 minutes of thrombin injection. In another experiment, when thrombin was injected six hours after the procedure, 80 percent of mice that had Heparin injection died while mice that received the smart patch stayed alive.

The researchers also promised further research toward implementing smart patch treatment in humans.

"This paper represents a good first step, and we're now looking for funding to perform additional preclinical testing," Gu said, in a press release.

The study was published in the journal Advanced Materials on Nov. 25.

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